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5 Questions for the Experts from the Allianz Automotive Innovation Center

Aug 8, 2019

We spoke to Ralph Thannheiser (Head of New Mobility, Allianz Automotive) and Jan Benecken (Manager Autonomous Driving, Allianz Automotive) about insurance for new mobility services, the collaboration between corporates and startups, as well as why people are starting to choose Mobility as a Service (MaaS) options over ownership.

How does your service change the mobility of the future?

Ralph Thannheiser [RT]: From an outside view, our service and products may not seem to play a major role in New Mobility services. However, if you take a look below the surface, you will find that insurance is a vital component and enabler for by far most of the mobility services provided today. Adequate insurance services around liability, own damage and personal risks (i.e. bodily injuries if you fall from an e-scooter) do not just improve the user experience of many mobility services significantly. They also help mobility providers to create competitive advantages and unique selling propositions.

How important is the collaboration between companies with various areas of expertise when it comes to automation, for instance Volkswagen working with Microsoft or Daimler working with Bosch?

Jan Benecken [JB]: In general, collaboration in developing new offerings has become extremely important – mainly for 3 reasons:

a) Sharing steadily increasing R&D costs
b) Accelerating and scaling, i.e. launching offerings in new mobility, electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles quickly
c) Internalisation of knowledge and expertise

At the same time, new entrants such as tech players or heavily funded startups are entering the market to secure significant market share. In such environment pooling resources will help existing automakers to bring new mobility offerings, autonomous and electric cars to market as fast as possible and capitalise on rising consumer interest in these vehicles. We believe that'll ultimately help them maximise their share of the decreasing profits available to all players in the industry.

The assumption is that the public sector is behind and slow, and the private sector is the space of innovation. How do you think we can increase cooperation between different sectors in order to drive change?

[JB]: This is an assumption I would challenge. In fact, we are seeing that a lot of innovation is driven out of universities, which belong rather to the public than the private sector. Just think about electric vehicle startup e.Go, which is a spin-off from the RWTH Aachen.

[RT]: In fact, the public sector’s role should rather be focused on providing necessary infrastructure, environment and regulation to allow private sector initiatives to innovate and transform. More precisely, if we look into the field of mobility services, we are seeing a number of so called “B2G” (Business to Government) initiatives successfully combining progressive public policies with support for creative ideas from private institutions, e.g.:

·         MOIA & City of Hamburg
·         TRAFI & BVG
·         Moovel & VVS (Verkehrsverbund Stuttgart)
·         ViaVan & BVG

In a nutshell, we believe that progressive public policy making has the largest potential to drive change in our environment.

How do you envision your hometown 30 years from now?

[RT]: I was born and raised in Hanover, Lower Saxony – as most cities with less than (or around) 0,5 Mio inhabitants, a city that does not offer much in terms of New Mobility services so far due to an assumed lack of utilization of such services. But, I firmly believe that this will change within the next 5-10 years, as operational cost of New Mobility service providers decrease, their efficiency increases and people get increasingly used to mobility services offerings.

[JB]: Looking 30 years ahead, I am convinced that the mobility landscape in cities like Hannover or Aachen (that’s my hometown) will look completely different. These cities will have grown in size significantly and be home to more than 1 Mio. people. In such an urban environment, we will see semi-autonomous to fully autonomous electric vehicle fleets dominating our day-to-day mobility consumption at a fraction of the cost of a taxi today. Users will start their multimodal mobility journey with a tip on their handheld devices (if those still exist) deciding for the cheapest, fastest or most convenient transportation from A to B – no matter if administrated by a public-private mobility partnership or a tech giant like Tencent, Uber or Google.

[RT]: Whilst this might seem far away for some, we are already actively working on these scenarios within Allianz. Just take the Allianz MyMobility solution, which we have launched in Italy earlier this year. It is actually the first multimodal mobility solution in the market, which takes the extremely heterogeneous mobility profiles of Allianz customers in consideration – rather than providing insurance for individual transportation modes only…

[JB]: …or if you take a look in the Autonomous Shuttle space, where Allianz is already a provider of insurance solutions for Level 4/5 autonomous shuttles, which are being operated in controlled areas around the globe. I imagine that in less dense populated areas outside the city, we will witness first – yet still somewhat expensive – electric passenger drones options for transport. Those who can’t afford such options, will still be reliant upon semi-autonomous electric vehicle or public transport.

Why are people choosing Mobility as a Service (MaaS) over ownership?

[RT]: The main reason why MaaS is becoming more and more popular in urban areas around the globe is that it increases the flexibility of day to day mobility consumption. It allows users to meet their individual preferences with regards to mobility: a shared car, when it’s raining outside; a scooter, when you are too lazy to walk; a train, when you would like to finish your presentation for the next meeting.

[JB]: Comparing it to individual car ownership, MaaS has the potential to reach the same – or even higher – service levels with more efficient use of resources, resulting in less traffic and less environmental emissions. For the user, MaaS is hassle-free and accommodating to the user’s needs.

[RT]: Next to being more efficient, I personally enjoy trying out different means of transportation such as bike- and e-scooter sharing, car sharing, ride hailing,… On business trips and on vacation I enjoy taking public transport, either to be independent of car usage or to better experience a new environment. All this mobility you can experience without having to pay for your personal car while it is parked at home.  

Thank you to Ralph Thannheiser and Jan Benecken for the very informative interview!


About Ralph Thannheiser and Jan Benecken

In his current role as Head of New Mobility at Allianz Automotive, Ralph Thanheiser is leading a team of business & solution developers serving mobility service providers across the globe. Under his management, Allianz Automotive has developed into a leading supplier of innovative and risk-adequate insurance & service solutions for mobility service providers like Share Now, Uber, SnappCar and many others. 

Jan Benecken is Manager Autonomous Driving at Allianz Automotive, where he is responsible for business & product development serving OEMs, autonomous mobility service providers and technology suppliers across the globe. In his previous role as managing principal in a consulting company he has worked several years for automotive OEMs and Tier1 suppliers, most recently focusing on (digital) business innovation and new mobility initiatives for large car manufacturers in Europe, North America and China.

Kick-starting the discussion at the New Mobility World 2019

New Mobility World at IAA 2019 brings industry experts, innovators, OEMs and startups together and covers the relevant topics of the future of mobility: Automation, Connectivity, E-Mobility and Mobility as a Service. Allianz Automotive is already leading the way as the number one partner for the automotive and mobility industry, and will showcase their standing and ambition by once again partnering up with this year's New Mobility World. The event will be the perfect platform for inspiring discussions about the mobility of tomorrow. Stay tuned!

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Email us at global.automotive@allianz.com


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